It’s that time of year. I’m putting up the softball backstop once again. Look at this beauty:
That’s one of the best softball backstops in Malaysia. Not much too look at, I know. But the availability of things is limited here – especially when compared to the baseball/softball paradise of America. But you would be mistaken if you thought I missed all that America has to offer. I don’t. In fact, we do just fine here, making do with far less attached to a little creativity.
Let’s start with the backstop in the picture. A couple of the maintenance guys at our school welded that frame together several years back and cemented it into the ground. The netting is made from some leftover, green construction netting which the school had laying around. It’s not pretty. It needs to be replaced every couple years, but it’s cheap (free!), easy to put up and it stops softballs. What else do you want?
I literally can’t relate to the American amateur sports scene anymore. I keep hearing more and more about travel teams, $300 bats, $200 gloves, and $100 cleats. Who can actually afford all that stuff anymore? I predominately played with a tennis ball growing up. I would stand on our front porch and throw the ball against the side wall repeatedly. I never had an aluminum bat growing up. I had a couple wooden bats which were either too small or too big, but that didn’t stop me.
It seems like so many people are obsessed by having to have everything new, expensive, and cool in order to play.
Well, living and coaching in Malaysia shows one very quickly that that’s a big lie. Most kids here who play don’t even have their own gloves. They have team gloves and team bats and team equipment that everyone shares. It’s so difficult to get a team to travel to play in a different region because people simply can’t afford it.
And yet, we play, we learn, we have a lot of fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Learn, grow, and pass it on. When amateur sports begins to price out the kids at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, then something is wrong.
We need to encourage our kids to be creative with less. Learn to use what we have without having to spend more money on an upgrade. Build a backstop out of stuff in your backyard. Got a lathe? Try and make your own bat.
And if you do have three gloves, how about gifting one to someone who can’t afford one?
When we equate success with those having the best stuff and opportunities, then we need to reevaluate and think what can I do to better help those who have less.
It’s softball season! Let the fun begin. Simply.